Potential relief options for the Brewers

November 25, 2012

> As I stated the other day, relievers could be hard to come by this offseason, largely in part to the multi-year deals that Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon League have already signed with the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. But the Brewers are certainly going to need at least one relatively-known name in the bullpen by the end of the offseason in order to shore up what proved to be the anchor of the team in 2012.

Here’s a list of potential closers who are on the market this offseason. Some of them are far out of the Brewers’ reach because they won’t fit financially, some are middle-of-the-pack (the most likely for the Brewers to sign), and some should be stayed away from for other reasons.

Jonathan Broxton
Matt Capps
Francisco Cordero
Kyle Farnsworth
Ryan Madson
Juan Carlos Oviedo
J.J. Putz
Mariano Rivera
Francisco Rodriguez
Joakim Soria
Jose Valverde

You can probably immediately tell who the Brewers are interested in and who they aren’t. In my opinion, the Brewers’ best bet would be Farnsworth, because he’d come relatively cheap and showed huge potential as the Rays’ closer in 2011. It’s doubtful that he’d close for the Brewers, since they seem pretty intent on keeping John Axford in the role, but Farnsworth could fill a gaping hole in the eighth inning if the Brewers fail to sign another setup man (which I’ll get to later). Oviedo- or Leo Nunez, who most probably still know him as- might not be a bad option for that role either, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2011 because of identity issues and injuries. Soria and Madson also haven’t pitched in a big league game since 2011. Capps, Valverde, Cordero, and obviously K-Rod were all flat-out ineffective in 2012. I suppose I wouldn’t mind Broxton after the 2012 he had, but I have to wonder where his asking price would be.

So, of that group, Farnsworth would be the most logical signing for the Brewers. I’ll admit my confidence in him wavered after his 2012, but what more do the Brewers have to lose?

Next is a list of free agent right-handed pitchers, ranging from guys with previous closing experience to near no-names. There are far more names on this list that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers bringing aboard.

Jeremy Accardo
Mike Adams
Luis Ayala
Miguel Batista
Todd Coffey
Jose Contreras
Juan Cruz
Chad Durbin
Jason Frasor
Kevin Gregg
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Bobby Jenks
Brad Lidge
Matt Lindstrom
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Mike MacDougal
Guillermo Mota
Micah Owings
Vicente Padilla
Chad Qualls
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Fernando Rodney
Takashi Saito
Rafael Soriano
Yoshinori Tateyama
Carlos Villanueva
Dan Wheeler
Jamey Wright
Jason Grilli

My wish list from this series of names (while trying to stay within the Brewers’ budget) would be Adams, Frasor, Lindstrom, Grilli, and/0r Padilla. Adams, a former Brewer, has become a different pitcher since he left, featuring a nice cutter to go along with nasty breaking stuff. He would slot perfectly into the eighth inning role. Grilli, Frasor, Lindstrom, and Padilla are all power arms, which is what the Brewers are looking for this offseason.

Anyway, Rodney is by far the best name on the list, but he’s going to draw far too many suitors for the Brewers to compete with; same goes for Soriano. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to bringing Hawkins or Saito back on one-year deals, but health is obviously an issue for both of them at this point in their careers. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Villanueva in a Brewers uniform again, but he’s reportedly looking for a job as a full-time starter.

If it weren’t already obvious, the guys the Brewers need to stay away from include Durbin, Jenks, and Qualls.

Lastly, here is the list of lefty relievers on the market. Seeing as Manny Parra might not be back next year (and he wasn’t effective as the only lefty in the bullpen anyway), I’d like to see the Brewers pick up at least one of these guys.

Sean Burnett
Tim Byrdak
Randy Choate
Pedro Feliciano
J.P. Howell
Will Ohman
J.C. Romero
Hisanori Takahashi

Two of these lefties- Burnett and Choate- would be nice additions for the Brewers, but both are more than likely going to re-sign with their current teams. I’d love for the Brewers to sign Howell- which they are probably capable of doing- but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams. Feliciano, however, could be a very interesting option. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2010 with the Mets due to injuries. But, before that, he was one of the best lefty specialists in the game, and led the league in appearances from 2008-2010. Even though there are some question marks surrounding him, he might be the best option for the Brewers.

The bottom line is the Brewers need to add at least one or two of these relievers, but there are certainly more than enough to choose from.

(Note: these free agent lists are courtesy of SportsCity)

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Nate Spears and Jose Flores to minor league deals.


Thanks, Jonny

September 11, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Braves are known for having one of the better bullpens and defenses in baseball. But neither were present tonight, as the Brewers handily took advantage of both of those absences to run away with a 4-1 win.

Mike Minor was on his game, but pitch count got him. He needed 115 pitches to get through just 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball. But it’s a good thing he needed all those pitches; there’s no telling what would have happened had he remained in the game.

The first run of the game came in the fifth inning on an Andrelton Simmons double play; you know it’s a pitchers’ duel when the first run of the game scores in that way that late. The Braves put in Jonny Venters to start the seventh inning, but he would hand the Brewers the game on a silver platter. He gave up a single to Martin Maldonado and a walk to Jean Segura to start the inning. Jeff Bianchi then put down a bunt that was only meant to advance the runners, but Venters foolishly went for the runner at third base (who he wouldn’t have gotten anyway), and ended up throwing the ball away. That allowed pinch-runner Eric Farris to score and tie up the game.

The Braves removed Venters for Chad Durbin, who let the floodgates open even more. After walking Jonathan Lucroy, he gave up a go-ahead two-run double to Norichika Aoki, who continues to show off his power stroke. Carlos Gomez tacked on the final run with a sacrifice fly.

The bullpen was solid, with Jim Henderson and John Axford putting up scoreless innings to finish off the game.

MY TAKE

> Aoki has come out of nowhere lately as another power threat in the lineup. After putting up a few extra-base hits in yesterday’s game- including a game-tying home run in the ninth- he hit two more doubles today.

> Wily Peralta was solid, going six innings while giving up a run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out four.

Peralta actually looked pretty wild, at least early on. He threw close to half of his pitches for balls and worked behind in the count for the most part. But, with as good of stuff as he has, I suppose it isn’t that huge of a factor.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart was out of the lineup tonight with an apparent injury to the arch of his left foot. He’s considered day-to-day for now.

> In Ben Sheets’ first return to Milwaukee since he left in 2008, he talked to the media about his injuries and doubters since then.

> The Astros released former Brewers closer Francisco Cordero. I’m guessing he’ll just retire now; after the year he’s had, I can’t imagine any team being even remotely interested in him.

THE NUMBERS

> The Braves got caught on the basepaths four- yes, four– times. Martin Prado got caught trying to take an extra base twice, Martin Maldonado picked off Freddie Freeman at first base on a snap-throw, and Maldonado threw out Jason Heyward attempting to steal second base.

> I forgot that the Braves signed former Brewer Lyle Overbay to a Minor League deal awhile back. He hit a single in the seventh inning.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Tim Hudson (14-5, 3.59 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (2-6, 3.99 ERA)

The Brewers haven’t faced Hudson since May of 2011, and it wasn’t pretty. Hudson threw a one-hit shutout that day. In fact, that was the same day Zack Greinke made his Brewers debut.


Back after two weeks

March 25, 2012

> It always feels good to come back to blogging after a long layoff.

Unfortunately, though, this seems to have been happening to me a lot lately. But, now it shouldn’t happen again for a few months.

Anyway, I’m happy to be back. Posts will gradually start up again regularly (hopefully right away, actually), both on here and Reviewing the Brew. I don’t think much happened Brewers-related while I was away, but I’ll cover the little that did happen during that time now.

> The Brewers’ Spring Training recordhasballooned to an ugly 7-12 over the past few weeks. I know ST really doesn’t mean anything, but it is a bit of a cause for concern. The offense hasn’t done much lately, and the starting rotation is starting to return to earth after their stellar start to the spring. It’s not that they’re putting up bad numbers, but it isn’t much compared to what they were doing a few weeks ago.

Despite the lack of offense, there have been a few guys here and there who are turning heads early on. New shortstop Alex Gonzalez is hitting .400, and hit his first homer of the spring today against the White Sox. Jonathan Lucroy is continuing to tear it up, as he’s hitting .483 (although he was in the .600’s for awhile before falling to that average). If you consider the awful start Aramis Ramirez had, then his .276 average isn’t bad. Ramirez also hit his first homer of the spring today. Then there’s Mat Gamel, who’s hitting just .256, but his case is similar to Ramirez’s.

Unfortunately, Ryan Braun still hasn’t found his stride- he’s hitting just .095. But I’m not too worried about that; he’s Ryan Braun. He’ll find it eventually.

Like I said earlier, the pitching isn’t what it was earlier this spring, but it’s still solid. Yovani Gallardo’s ERA is 2.77, Zack Greinke’s is 0.73, Chris Narveson’s is 2.70, and Randy Wolf’s is 3.26. Most of those are actually great, but if you consider that all of them had 0.00 ERAs throughout the first few weeks of spring, they’re returning to earth.

Also, regarding Shaun Marcum’s status, he has yet to pitch in an ST game. But, it’s sounding more and more like he’ll be ready for Opening Day, which is a good sign.

That’s about it, Brewers-related at least.

> Chris Carpenter was probably dropping f-bombs about this one. It was reported that he’s been diagnosed with nerve inflammation in his right shoulder. That injury may be somehow related to the injuries he suffered earlier in his career during the 2004 and 2008 seasons.

Carpenter was the Cardinals’ projected Opening Day starter after going 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA last year (along with a 3-0 postseason mark). But now the job is going to go to Kyle Lohse, who went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2011. The Cardinals also have to use Lance Lynn in their rotation now with Carpenter out. So their rotation, in order at this point, is Lohse, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Lynn, and Jake Westbrook.

> Meanwhile in Cincinnati, it appears the Reds have lost their projected closer for this year. Ryan Madson, who was signed to a one-year deal a few months back, is having season-ending Tommy John surgery before he even appeared in a Cactus League game. The Reds will probably have to turn to lefty Sean Marshall to be there closer now, as he’s one of the only choices in their bullpen after they let Francisco Cordero walk.

> Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. I should have a post up on RtB tomorrow; I think I’ve got an idea for a topic. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Looking back at the first week of 2011’s offseason

November 7, 2011

> The first week of the 2011 MLB offseason was rather quiet, with none of the top free agents reaching agreements with new teams (or the ones they were already with). But I guess that wasn’t expected. Anyway, despite this, there were a lot of minor moves, with some more significant than others, and later in this article I’ll try to go through every move made. But, before that, there is one Brewers-related piece of news that I should probably share.

> Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy tomorrow. Ugh.

Over the past few days, Sveum has been considered the front-runner to become the new Red Sox manager, but nothing has been confirmed. And now he’s going to have a chance to become the Cubs’ manager, a team he has seen up close and personally for quite a few years now as the Brewers’ hitting coach.

So the reason I said “ugh” earlier is because, no matter who it is, I find it painful to see someone from a team I like leave for a team I hate. For instance, I was crushed a few years back when Brett Favre left the Packers for the Jets, and eventually the Vikings- a team I despise. (That is, until I figured out what a loser Favre was under the surface, but you still get the point.) Anyway, I’d be happy for Sveum no matter where he goes (if he does end up managing), but let me say I’d be much happier if he went to the Red Sox instead of the Cubs.

> But, with that aside, let’s get to all the moves that occurred during this first week of the Hot Stove. I guess I didn’t realize how much I didn’t cover on BreakingWI, but here’s my chance to redeem myself.

> Frank McCourt agreed with MLB to sell the Dodgers, and hopefully put this divorce-bankruptcy crap behind him and the franchise. The Dodgers suffered that for far too long, and hopefully whoever ends up being the team can right that ship.

> The long expected CC Sabathia opt-out never actually happened, as the Yankees managed to retain him by adding an extra year, worth $25 million, to his already-remaining for years on the seven-year deal he signed back in 2008 (after he left the Brewers). So much for that… I was looking forward to him sticking it up the Yankees’… Er, maybe I shouldn’t go there.

> The Indians acquired 15-year veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe has definitely been on a decline in recent years, but the Indians hope his veteran presence can anchor their very young rotation.

> The Phillies successfully signed designated hitter Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. Oh, wait, they’re a National League team… Apparently they expect him to play a little first base and be a power lefty off the bench, but I can’t see this deal working out very well.

> Cards manager Tony La Russa decided to retire after 33 seasons as a Major League manager. He definitely went out on top, that’s for sure…

> Davey Johnson is going to be the Nationals’ manager in 2012 as well, after picking up where Jim Riggleman left off midway through the 2011 season.

> The Giants exercised their option on lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and also signed fellow lefty reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year deal.

> The Dodgers re-signed Juan Rivera to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after acquiring him from the Blue Jays halfway through the 2011 season.

> The Cubs exercised their half of the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez declined his half, thus becoming a free agent.

> The Nationals re-signed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, following three seasons full of injuries- two of which he didn’t even pitch at all. But, before that, he was a dominant starting pitcher for the Yankees.

> The Diamondbacks made a few signings on and off the field, as they locked up shortstop John McDonald with a two-year, $3 million deal, along with a one-year deal worth $1.2 million for catcher Henry Blanco. They also extended GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, both of whom completely turned around what looked to be another disappointing season coming in.

> The Brewers declined their $17.5 million option on Francisco Rodriguez, which was inherited from the Mets. They also declined a $6 million option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (HOORAY!).

> The Mets pretty much came out and said that they’re not going to be able to retain shortstop Jose Reyes. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s sort of odd that they’d come out and say it like that.

> The Braves have announced that they would trade starter Jair Jurrjens and outfielder/second baseman Martin Prado, if given a good enough deal. Right now, the Royals look like the best destination, at least for Jurrjens.

> The Giants are willing to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez. Not sure who would want that walk-machine, unless they really need starting pitching.

> The Cardinals declined their options  on shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Octavio Dotel. That was surprising to some (including me).

> The Red Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro.

> The Nationals appear to be in the running for starter Roy Oswalt, whose option was declined by the Phillies prior to the World Series.

> It sounds like the Phillies are literally dying for Michael Cuddyer, which means they’ll probably have him. But that would pretty much nullify the Thome deal, because Cuddyer could play a similar role, but is so much more versatile.

> The Diamondbacks declined options on starter Zach Duke, second baseman Aaron Hill, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist, but are probably open to re-signing Hill and Bloomquist.

> The Blue Jays picked up their option on outfielder Edwin Encarnacion, but declined their option on reliever Jon Rauch.

> The Royals picked up their $6 million option on closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off a horrible 2011. But, prior to that, he was one of the top closers in the game.

> The Reds picked up their option on second baseman Brandon Phillips, but declined the option on closer Francisco Cordero.

> The Padres declined options on starter Aaron Harang, reliever Chad Qualls, and first baseman Brad Hawpe. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t pick up Harang’s option, because he actually quietly put up a good season.

> The Rays exercised their option  on starter James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth, while declining both of those pitchers’ batterymate, Kelly Shoppach.

> Mariners closer David Aardsma, who did not pitch at all in 2011 due to an injury from 2010, has elected free agency. Whichever team that signs him will probably have to wait until at least June for his services in the Majors, however, as he’s still recovering from the injury.

> The White Sox picked up their option on reliever Jason Frasor, who they acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline.

> The Indians exercised their option on starter Fausto Carmona, but declined the option on the injury-plagued center fielder Grady Sizemore.

> The Pirates declined options on catcher Ryan Doumit, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Chris Snyder, and starter Paul Maholm. I thought they should have kept Maholm at least, because he’s good- just doesn’t get run support. But they can do whatever the want to keep themselves from having their first winning season since 1992, for all I care…

> The Rockies declined their option on starter Aaron Cook. That was definitely expected, as he’s been injury-plagued and ineffective over the past two years.

> Lastly, the Rangers exercised their option on Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.

Well, that took awhile, but thanks for reading. Feel free to leave thoughts on these moves, if you have any.



Brewers’ rally against the flameout falls short

September 20, 2011

I see nothing in Carlos Marmol. Absolutely nothing.

The Brewers fell to the Cubs today, 5-2, and their magic number will stay at four for at least another day. That’s because the Cardinals beat Roy Halladay and the Phillies (talk about a worthless bunch). But that’s why I hate the Phillies- when I want them to win, which is rare, they don’t. And they win the rest of the time.

Anyway, back to the Brewers and Cubs. All five Cubs runs were driven in by Geovany Soto, who hit two two-run homers and had a RBI single. The only Brewers runs came on home runs by Jerry Hairston Jr. and Casey McGehee.

Chris Narveson had a very short start today, going just four innings while giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits. But, I guess you can’t blame him- the Brewers have been yanking him in and out of the starting rotation over the past few weeks, plus he was injured before that. Switching a pitcher between the rotation and bullpen rapidly is NOT how you help him recover from an injury. Anyway, Narveson took his first career loss against the Cubs with the loss today.

Casey Coleman, on the other hand, dominated the Brewers- just like all pitchers with ERAs over 7.00 do. He went six innings while giving up a run on just two hits. He walked three and struck out eight.

The Brewers rallied against Marmol in the ninth inning, starting with a McGehee solo homer. But, Marmol, after giving up back-t0-back hits, would strike out Taylor Green and Corey Hart to end the game.

Anyway, there are a couple reasons I called Marmol a “flameout” earlier. I just don’t see anything in him. First off, the catcher-converted-into-pitcher is having a horrible year. He has a 3.91 ERA- which is actually pretty high for a closer- and has 34 saves. Sure, 34 saves sounds alright- unless you compare it to the 43 opportunities he’s had. That’s nine blown saves. Marmol actually lost the closer’s role for awhile to Sean Marshall, but was recently inserted back into that slot. Anyway, another reason I don’t see anything in Marmol- his signature pitch, the slider, doesn’t even break half of the time. It just spins up to the plate, resulting in hard-hit balls. And, when the slider does break, it breaks way out of the zone. He’s had outings this year where he walks four or more batters this year, and gives up six or more runs. Not something you want to see from a closer.

Anyway, one more thing- Mariano Rivera broke Trevor Hoffman’s save record with his 602nd career save today. That didn’t take too long; Hoffman barely held onto the record for a year. But Rivera is definitely going to have more than 602 saves- he has a 1.98 ERA, and he’s 42. That’s something you don’t hear too often… Anyway, there’s no other active closer even remotely close to 600 saves- the next closest is ex-Brewers Francisco Cordero. But I can’t see Cordero getting to 600 saves.

But who knows. Maybe in 15 years, we’ll be celebrating John Axford’s 600th save. That’s looking pretty far ahead. But, I’d love to see it, no matter when it comes- if it comes, that is.

The Brewers will look to even up this series in Chicago tomorrow at 7:05 PM CT. Shaun Marcum (12-7, 3.40 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he’ll be in search for some run support- something he hasn’t gotten over the past month. Marcum has been that one starter that has been amazing on the road for the Brewers, however. He has a sub-3.00 ERA on the road this season. Anyway, Marcum has one career start against the Cubs, in which he gave up two runs over six innings and earned the win.

The Cubs will counter with Randy Wells (7-4, 4.93 ERA). Wells hasn’t lost over his last nine starts, but is 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA in his career against the Brewers.


For third straight day, Brewers hammer Reds

September 19, 2011

If you didn’t see the Brewers’ offense before this series, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you they’d struggled against the Cardinals, Phillies, and Rockies. But, with all the offense in this series, I doubt the Brewers would remember how badly they were struggling, either.

The Brewers won their 90th game of the season today against the Reds, beating them 8-1 in yet another blowout win. With this blowout win, the Brewers outscored the Reds 24-5 in this series sweep of them, and also held them to just two hits in each of the past two games (courtesy of Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke). Anyway, the Brewers’ magic number now goes down to four, and, if the Cardinals lose to the Phillies in a game that’s starting right now, then it will fall to three.

Zack Greinke had a great start today and earned his 15th win of the season. That’s actually remarkable, considering he missed all of April and didn’t make his season debut until May 4th. He’s now just one win away from tying a career-high in wins (his career-high, 16, came in 2009, his AL Cy Young year). Anyway, Greinke went seven innings while giving up one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out 10, as he continues to be a strikeout machine. (Also note that Greinke is in the top 10 in the league in strikeouts despite missing a month.)

The Brewer offense started the game with a bang in the first inning. Carlos Gomez and Prince Fielder both hit two-run homers off Matt Maloney, who was making a spot start in place of Dontrelle Willis. Maloney clearly wasn’t ready for this start, as he lasted just 1 2/3 innings while giving up seven runs (six earned). Anyway, Rickie Weeks’ two-run single in the second inning made it 7-0, and Corey Hart’s solo shot in the sixth finished the Brewers’ scoring. The only run the Reds scored was on a Devin Mesoraco RBI single in the fifth.

Ryan Braun had another good day at the plate, going 3-for-4 and raising his batting average to .336. Jose Reyes of the Mets, who Braun has been competing with for a batting title over the last month, wasn’t in the Mets’ starting lineup today. Reyes is currently hitting .331, so hopefully Braun can maintain the lead he has on him.

Oh, and one more thing, Logan Schafer got his first career hit today off usual Reds closer (and former Brewers closer) Francisco Cordero. I guess the fact that it was off Cordero makes it that much better.

The Brewers will travel to Chicago and start a three-game series with the Cubs tomorrow. Chris Narveson (10-7, 4.40 ERA) will make his first start in awhile. The Brewers skipped his spot in the rotation due to off-days the last time through, but, in his last start, he gave up six runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies. Anyway, Narveson has had a lot of success against the Cubs in his career, going 6-0 with a 3.41 ERA against them.

The Cubs will counter with Casey Coleman (2-8, 7.06 ERA). He’s still replacing Carlos Zambrano, who won’t pitch for the Cubs for the rest of the season, and probably won’t pitch for the Cubs next year, either. Anyway, back to Coleman- he’s 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

By the way, Justin Verlander of the Tigers picked up his 24th win of the season today against the Athletics. You never see guys getting win totals in the mid-20’s in this day and age. But Verlander is definitely something special… He can’t win 30 games, but, he could probably win 26 or 27 games, which would still be remarkable.


After Greinke’s great start, Brewers get shaky win

August 28, 2011

This win certainly didn’t come easy, but, as you’d expect, the Brewers found a way to pull this one out.

The Brewers defeated the Cubs today, 3-2, and completed a three-game sweep of them at Miller Park. It appeared that the Cubs were going to go easily from the start, as Zack Greinke didn’t even give up his first hit until the fifth inning. But, it turned out that the Brewers would have to get around some late drama to win this one.

But, before I get into any of that, let me say that Greinke had a great start, and definitely rebounded from his awful start in Pittsburgh his last time out. Greinke went 7 2/3 innings while giving up a run on four hits. He walked two and struck out seven. The 7 2/3 innings also tied Greinke’s longest start of the year.

Ryan Braun hit a RBI double in the first inning to get the Brewers on the board first (how many times have I said that over the past week?), which followed a Corey Hart single. That would be it until the fifth inning, when Hart stayed hot and hit a two-run home run to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead.

But, things got interesting in the eighth inning. Greinke gave up a one-out double to Blake DeWitt, and after retiring one more batter, Ron Roenicke pulled him in favor of Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod came in and promptly gave up a RBI double to Darwin Barney to cut the Cubs’ deficit to 3-1, but he retired Aramis Ramirez to get out of the inning.

John Axford came on to close it out in the ninth, but made it a shaky save. Carlos Pena nearly hit a homer leading off the inning, but it lost carry at the warning track. Then, Tyler Colvin didn’t miss his homer and took Axford deep to cut the deficit to 3-2. Axford then lost his command for a batter and walked Marlon Byrd, and the next batter, Alfonso Soriano, practically hit a go-ahead two-run homer that, like Pena’s, died down at the warning track.

But it didn’t stop there. With two outs and Byrd still on first, Casey McGehee made an error at third base that I thought for sure was going to blow the Brewers the game. But, Geovany Soto grounded out to end the game. (McGehee actually bobbled that ball too, but still made the out.)

Anyway, now that I’m done talking about how shaky Axford’s save was, let me give some positives about- it was his 40th save of the year. He now becomes the second closer in Brewers history to notch 40 saves, the first being Francisco Cordero (44 saves in 2007). It was also Axford’s 37th consecutive save, which continues to add on to a franchise record.

McGehee’s defense in the ninth inning today was just awful, as I mentioned earlier. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Taylor Green get his first Major League start the day after tomorrow just because of McGehee’s performance in the ninth. I don’t know if Green is as good defensively as he is offensively, but I don’t think anyone could be as bad as McGehee was in the ninth today.

The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow, but, after that, they’ll face the Cardinals, who they currently have a 10.5 over in the NL Central. So, with a few wins in this series, the Brewers can pretty much knock them out. Here are the probables for the series:

Edwin Jackson (10-9, 3.95 ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum (11-4, 3.38 ERA)

??? vs. Randy Wolf (11-8, 3.37 ERA)

??? vs. Yovani Gallardo (15-8, 3.37 ERA)

MLB has yet to announced the starters for the last two games of the series, but I do know that the Brewers won’t have to face Jaime Garcia or Chris Carpenter, the best pitchers in the Cardinals’ rotation. So I guess that means that we’ll be facing Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, but I don’t know in which order.


Kotsay gets walk-off single in ninth as Brewers roll

August 17, 2011

9:50p The Brewers seem to find new ways to win every day nowadays, and today was no different.

Dodgers-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Dodgers again today, 2-1, to continue their winning streak, which now stands at five. The final blow came on Mark Kotsay’s walk-off single in the ninth inning off Dodgers reliever Mike MacDougal, who was struggling with his command throughout the inning, but I’ll get to that later.

The Dodgers actually struck first in the second inning against Yovani Gallardo when Aaron Miles hit a RBI single to drive in Matt Kemp. Gallardo struggled with his command early before settling in, but that was the only run he would give up. He ended up going eight innings while giving up a run on four hits. He struck out nine and walked one. This performance was uncharacteristic of Gallardo against the Dodgers, who came into today with an 0-3 record with a 10.80 ERA against them in his career. He didn’t pick up the win, unfortunately, settling for a no-decision, but that ERA probably took a large drop.

Anyway, the Brewers countered right away in the bottom of the second on Corey Hart’s RBI groundout. The game would become a pitchers’ duel and stay tied until the ninth inning.

Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley also had a good start (not as good as Gallardo’s, but still good). He went seven innings while giving up a run on four hits. He struck out five and walked two.

Following Billingsley’s good outing, however, would be a bullpen meltdown for the Dodgers. They brought in Hong-Chih Kuo, a lefty, to face Prince Fielder leading off the inning. He promptly walked Fielder, which made Dodgers manager Don Mattingly go right back to his bullpen. This time, he brought out the right-handed MacDougal, who didn’t fare much better. He gave up a hit to Casey McGehee, then walked Yuniesky Betancourt to load the bases with no outs. That set the stage for Kotsay’s second walk-off single of the year.

Kotsay comes through in the clutch again

At times throughout the year, I’ve been extremely frustrated with Kotsay. A lot of times, he falters with guys on base by striking out, hitting an easy grounder, etc., but that all seems to change whenever he bats under pressure in the ninth. Kostay already had a walk-off against Francisco Cordero and the Reds earlier this year, and a game-tying single against Cordero and the Reds as well.

Brewers winning without many runs

Over the past four games, the Brewers have scored a total of eight runs. And yet they’re 4-0 in those games. Any other year before this, they would probably have been 0-4, but, this year, the pitching is good enough to bail out the Brewers even when there’s a lack of offense.

The Brewers have also hit only three home runs over the past four games, and all three of them came last night. So that goes to show that the Brewers don’t need the long ball to win, either.

Brewers extend division lead to seven

To go along with a Brewers win tonight, the Cardinals conveniantly lost in Pittsburgh. Garrett Jones hit a walk-off home run in the 10th inning off newly signed Arthur Rhodes, who has been a bust with both the Rangers and Cardinals this year. The game actually wouldn’t have even had to go to extra innings, had Fernando Salas not given up a game-tying homer to Neil Walker in the ninth. But, I guess that’s what the Cardinals get for not upgrading the back end of their bullpen at the Trade Deadline, despite the fact that was their biggest need. (And no, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Arthur Rhodes don’t count as the “back end.”)

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will go for a series win against the Dodgers tomorrow and will send Zack Greinke (11-4, 4.08 ERA) to the mound. Greinke is on a roll since the All-Star break, and is 4-1 with a 1.56 ERA since then. He has a 5.40 ERA in five innings for his career against the Dodgers, so I don’t really know what to make of that.

The Dodgers will counter with rookie starter Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 1.64 ERA), who will be making his third Major League start. He shut out the Astros for six innings his last time out, but the Brewers will obviously be much more of a challenge. I still don’t know much about Eovaldi, so I guess we’ll have to see how he does tomorrow.


Brewers beat Cordero again on Counsell’s sac fly

July 11, 2011

4:01p Well, we can thank Francisco Cordero for sending us into the All-Star Break on a good note. I can’t imagine he’s going to be the Reds’ closer for too much longer.

Reds-Brewers Wrap-Up

The Brewers defeated the Reds again today, 4-3, in yet another thriller. All of the games the Brewers won in this series were one-run games, including two walk-offs. The first was the day before yesterday by Mark Kotsay off of Cordero. Then, there was another one today. Cordero was in again, and this time, Kotsay tied up the game, but there was a new hero- Craig Counsell.

The game got off to a rocky start for both sides. Brewers starter Randy Wolf wasn’t getting much help from the umpires in the first inning. He started off the game by walking Drew Stubbs, but the pitch before could have gotten him the strikeout, had the umpires not been blind, which they were the entire first inning. Wolf would go on to walk Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce (he might have also struck out Bruce, but do I even need to say what happened?). Then, Wolf “hit” Scott Rolen with a cutter that ran inside. It did, in fact, hit Rolen, but he clearly swung at the pitch. The umpires, however, didn’t see it, and a run scored from third base. Jonny Gomes would ground out to finally end the inning.

Reds starter Dontrelle Willis, making his first Major League start in over a year, didn’t have the greatest of starts to the game, either. After Rickie Weeks led off with a double, Carlos Gomez bunted him over to third, which set up an RBI single for Corey Hart. Willis would walk Prince Fielder and Casey McGehee, but got out of it after a pop-out and a groundout.

The second inning was also rocky for both sides. Joey Votto hit an RBI single to drive in Zack Cozart, but that was all the Reds would do against Wolf in the second. In the Brewers’ half, Willis walked Weeks, then Gomez hit an RBI triple to tie the game at 2-2.

In the fourth, Weeks was trying to turn a double play, but the ball sailed past Fielder. Ramon Hernandez, who started the inning with a single, scored on the error. After that, there was no more scoring until yet another Brewer’ rally in the ninth.

Wolf exited after seven strong innings. He gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits. He walked four and struck out two. Willis, meanwhile, made a solid return to the Majors, going six innings while giving up two runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out four.

After Willis left the game, flamethrower Aroldis Chapman entered the game and fired two perfect innings, continuing his domination of the Brewers. He struck out four, including in the seventh inning, when he struck out the side.

Then, Cordero came in, and you can figure out what happened from there. But, I’ll tell you anyway.

After Cordero retired the first batter he faced in Yuniesky Betancourt, Nyjer Morgan stepped up, pinch-hitting for Josh Wilson. Morgan, who has turned himself into one of the most clutch players on the Brewers, singled, then stole second while George Kottaras was batting. Kottaras eventually drew a walk, then Kotsay, the hero from a few nights ago, stepped to the plate.

Kotsay wouldn’t win the game, but he did tie it with a single that scored Morgan. Cordero nearly caught Kotsay’s line drive, but it deflected off his glove. Then, the struggling Counsell stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded an one out. Coming into to today, Counsell’s career average with the bases loaded was .382. So, you can probably figure it out now.

It wasn’t a hit, but it was a sacrifice fly that scored Kottaras from third. That was enough, as the Brewers won 4-3, and defeated Cordero yet again.

“Coco’s gone loco”

Came up with that phrase myself, mind you.

But it’s true. Cordero has blown three consecutive saves in as many opportunities, including the two blown saves against the Brewers in this series. He had also blown one before this series in the Reds’ previous series with Cardinals, giving up a game-tying homer to Jon Jay in the ninth inning of what would have been a huge Cardinals comeback, had the Cards not lost it in extra innings.

Cordero didn’t look like himself all series. He was walking guys like crazy, his velocity was somewhat down, and couldn’t contain Kotsay, who beat him and tied the game to blow the saves for Cordero.

Loe seemingly doing better in less-pressured role

Kameron Loe came in the game today, so naturally, I started to think the Reds would extend their lead. Instead, he threw two perfect innings and struck out two. He also had to work around a lead-off walk in the eighth inning, courtesy of Zach Braddock, who came in to try and retire Bruce. Loe was rewarded with the win. I’m still no too thrilled with his seven losses, but three wins aren’t bad I guess.

Kotsay, Weeks establish themselves as Reds-killers

Kotsay and Weeks both had a great series. Kotsay, obviously, beat Cordero twice in the ninth inning, but Weeks really dominated the Reds as well. Weeks was already a Reds-killer before this series, but continued it this series. He had one homer, which was the inside-the-parker off Mike Leake in the second game of the series.

Braun sits again, won’t start All-Star Game

Well, I was scared it would come to this, and it did. Ryan Braun announced that he will not start the All-Star game and didn’t play in today’s game, either. It was his eighth consecutive missed game. To be honest, I’m surprised we got by this series with the Reds without our most consistent hitter. Not to mention it was the Reds, the team we struggle the most against.

Braun will be replaced by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, which I wasn’t too thrilled about. Don’t get me wrong, I think McCutchen is a good player. But, when he saw that he didn’t make the All-Star team when the rosters were announced, he started complaining because he didn’t make it and thought he should have. I can’t stand guys who smart about stuff like that.

By the way, Cordero was also smarting because he didn’t make the All-Star game. That was a few days ago, when his ERA was 1.49. Now, hopefully he sees why he didn’t make it.

Up next for the Crew…

There’s your first half for the Brewers. When they come back from the break, they’ll start a four-game set against the Rockies. Yovani Gallardo (10-5, 3.76 ERA) will be the most likely starter for the opening game. Gallardo has had a rough career against the Rockies, going 0-3 with a 5.85 ERA.

The Rockies will counter with Ubaldo Jimenez (4-8, 4.14 ERA). Jimenez is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

The Brewers swept a three-game set with the Rockies earlier this season at Miller Park.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Astros lost to the Marlins, 5-4. They are 19 games out. And remember, if they reach 20, I’m just going to stop putting what they do on here.
  • The Pirates beat down the Cubs, 9-1. They are one and 12 games back, respectively. (I’m still having a tough time comprehending that it’s the Pirates who are one game back. Then again, the Cubs being one game back would be scary as well.)
  • The Cardinals beat the Diamondbacks, 4-2. We remain tied with them for first.

Kotsay beats Cordero as Brewers walk-off

July 9, 2011

EDIT- 2:02p It doesn’t look like I’ll be home tonight, as I’m staying in downtown Milwaukee for the night. I doubt I’ll have access to internet where I’m staying, so that means there probably will not be a post tonight.

Anyway, let’s hope the Brewers can take this series from the Reds tonight, and that the Cardinals and the Pirates both lose to give us some breathing room in the Central. Let’s go Crew!

11:18p This probably goes without saying, but that had to be the best Brewer game I’ve ever been to.

Reds-Brewers Wrap-Up

I don’t know if it gets much better than that. The Brewers defeated the Reds, 8-7, in a crazy back-and-forth game. Early on, Zack Greinke was getting roughed up again, but settled down as the game went on. His counterpart, Reds starter Mike Leake, was the opposite. He was great early in the game, but fell apart in the middle innings. But this turned into a game of bullpens.

Things were not looking good for Greinke in the first inning. After Greinke retired the first two (including a caught-stealing of Drew Stubbs), Joey Votto hit a solo homer. Then, after a Brandon Phillips double, Jay Bruce drove him in with an RBI single.

In the third, Greinke got into a bases-loaded jam with no outs. After striking out two and coming close to escaping with no damage done, Scott Rolen hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Mat Gamel. The ball ate up Gamel and got into the outfield, and two runs scored, making it 4-0.

The Brewers would finally answer in the third when Rickie Weeks hit an inside-the-park homer off Leake, making it 4-1. They would score again in the fifth, when Weeks, after a Greinke single, hit an RBI double. Nyjer Morgan then drove in Weeks with a single. Morgan later scored on a Prince Fielder sacrifice fly, which tied the game at four. The Brewers would take the lead in the sixth after Mark Kotsay’s go-ahead homer. That would end Leake’s night. He went 5 2/3 innings and gave up five runs on seven hits, while walking one and striking out three. Greinke’s night also ended after six innings. He gave up four runs (two earned) on six hits to go along with two walks and 10 strikeouts. He finally lowered his ERA a bit, which now stands at 5.45.

Things started to look bad in the seventh. After Zack Cozart singled, Votto hit what looked like a single to the left fielder Kotsay. But, we’ve learned over the past few days that Kotsay has no idea how to defend in center field, and this was another example of it. The ball skipped past him, which scored Cozart and allowed Votto to advance to third. Phillips then scored Votto on a sacrifice fly. Bruce added on to the lead with a solo shot, making it 7-5. All of this came off of Zach Braddock, who deserved a better fate, but was charged with three earned runs and his first blown save of the year. Ironically enough, Kameron Loe came in to finish the inning. Loe went 1 1/3 scoreless before handing the ball off to Marco Estrada, who also pitched a scoreless inning. Then came the ninth, where all the action happened.

Francisco Cordero, a former Brewer, was on to close it out for the Reds. He had a two run lead, which you think would be enough for a guy like Cordero. But, after giving up a lead-0ff walk to George Kottaras, I could tell it was going to be a rough night for him. Kottaras would advance to second on a wild pitch by Cordero, then Morgan slapped a triple, which scored Kottaras. Corey Hart then grounded out but reached first on a fielder’s choice, as Morgan was thrown out at home attempting to tie the game. After that, Cordero’s command struggles continued, as he walked Fielder. Then, Casey McGehee reached on an infield single, which loaded the bases for Mark Kotsay.

Kotsay would hit a two-strike single to right field which scored Hart. Carlos Gomez, who was pinch-running for Fielder, scored the winning run. He might have been out had Bruce’s throw from right field been on target, but it was airmail, and flew passed catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Brewers get fourth walk-off win of season

If I’ve been counting correctly, this was the Brewers’ fourth walk-off win of the season, but I definitely didn’t picture Kotsay being the star.

I found it ironic that gave us the lead with a homer, then cost us the lead with that error, but wound up giving us the win on his single. I guess the walk-off lets him off the hook for that error, but I hope Ryan Braun is back so Ron Roenicke can stop playing Kotsay in left.

Speaking of Braun…

Braun sits again, but could be back tomorrow

Braun sat AGAIN today, and I’m kind of sick of having to put that in all of my posts. But, I noticed that he came running out of the dugout and was jumping during the walk-off celebration. I don’t think someone with a bad calf could do that, so I’m expecting him to be able to play tomorrow.

Slow curve is slow

For those of you who don’t know Greinke’s pitching repertoire, it looks something like this- fastball, circle change, curveball, slider. The slider is, obviously, is his out pitch. He doesn’t use the curve much, but when he does, it’s a spiked, or knuckle, curveball.

However, on occasion, he uses a half-eephus curve that’s usually only in the mid-60 MPH range. It’s similar to Randy Wolf’s sweeping curve, but Greinke’s doesn’t sweep as much, and it’s usually slower.

Anyway, Greinke was pitching to Chris Heisey (I think that’s who it was), and he threw the eephus curve to him. Heisey must have been looking fastball, because that’s just about how far ahead of the pitch he was. Then, I noticed that the pitch speed on Greinke’s curve was 61 MPH. 61. Now that is slow. It had to be the slowest pitch I’ve ever seen a Brewer throw.

I’m not sure what the slowest curve Greinke has ever thrown is, but that was the slowest I’d seen him throw. When he was with the Royals, the slowest I saw was 62 MPH, making this a new record.

Anyway, I don’t know why I ranted on about his slow curve for so long. I just thought it was worth being in this post. So, let’s move on.

Up next for the Crew…

The Brewers will send Shaun Marcum (7-2, 3.32 ERA) to the mound tomorrow, who has been screwed out of a few wins by the bullpen lately (mainly Loe or Estrada blowing saves after Marcum leaves with the lead). Marcum’s two career starts against the Reds both came this year. He is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in that span.

The Reds will send their most consistent starter, without a doubt, to the mound tomorrow in Johnny Cueto (5-3, 1.77 ERA). He hasn’t been given the best run support, as evidenced by his five wins, but his ERA is no fluke; he’s really been throwing that well. Cueto is 2-2 with a 4.24 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

Elsewhere around the division…

  • The Pirates defeated the Cubs, 7-4. The Pirates are now tied for second in the division, while the Cubs are 12 games out.
  • The Astros lost to the Marlins, 6-3. They are now 18 games out. (Note: If the Astros get 20 games out, I’m going to stop putting up what they do on this blog. It’s hilarious how awful they’re doing, though.)
  • The Cardinals lost to the Diamondbacks, 7-6, giving the Brewers the division lead all by themselves. If the Pirates pass them in the division tomorrow… That should be interesting.